Expo 2020 Dubai: Art installation by visitors as young as 3 now on display at mall

The artwork will be on display for 30 days and is currently up for sale


Nasreen Abdulla

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Sleeping Muse. Photo: Supplied
Sleeping Muse. Photo: Supplied

Published: Thu 16 Jun 2022, 2:26 PM

An astounding collaborative art project weighing 300 kilograms, worked on by 7,500 people, the youngest of whom was just 3, is now being exhibited at the One Wall Gallery in Index Mall, Dubai.

The unique artwork, completed at Expo 2020, is inspired by and named after Romanian artist Constantin Brancusi's sculpture Sleeping Muse. Visitors from 119 nationalities completed the project in 25 days at the Romanian pavilion.

Conceived and executed by designer Florin Cobuz, the artwork had some high-profile collaborators including Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan; Minister of State for Foreign Trade Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi and UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and managing director of Expo 2020 Dubai Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashemy.

"I was invited by the Romanian pavilion to conduct an exhibition," said Florin Cobuz, co-founder of the design space Nod Makerspace. "I didn't want to just put up another exhibition. I wanted to create something with the people. To be honest, after the first week, we were exhausted because of the sheer amount of people and work required.

"It was a first for all of us. But we managed and persevered. It was surprising how many people saw the project and came forward, volunteering to help us. They made a real difference."

The artwork, which uses more than 27,000 sticks, each cut differently, is the result of a combination of several techniques.

Florin Cobuz with the artwork. Photo: Supplied
Florin Cobuz with the artwork. Photo: Supplied

"We created software to help create this model," said Cobuz. "This software guided us on how to cut each stick. Then we made an app connected to this software, which would help people generate a code telling where the stick would be placed and how long it should be. After they registered, we taught people how to cut the stick and hammer it into the piece."

"What makes this artwork truly unique is that it combines many techniques- 3D modelling, app making, software, traditional cutting techniques, electrical cutting techniques, then finishing it and hammering it. I didn't know all of these techniques. So, I connected with people with the skills to make the idea come true."


The artist who came to Dubai for the first time said the city surprised him. "I came up with the wrong idea," he said. "I thought it was a very cosmopolitan city where people didn't have time for each other. But I met a lot of warm people who would go out of their way to help. I love the diversity of the country. It is such a beautiful place."

Despite the time and effort it took, Cobuz said he found the process extremely fulfilling.

"I used to feel very tired each night," he said. "But coming back every morning and watching the artwork grow was one of the most rewarding experiences. It took 25 days. The youngest participant was three years old. She needed some help from her parents, but she was so enthusiastic. There was also a 7-year-old whose parents were begging him to go home after he had spent three hours at the pavilion. But he kept saying 'just one more stick'. It was so amazing to watch the enthusiasm."

The 2.5x1.5m 3D honeycomb structure creation will be displayed at Index Mall for 30 days and is currently up for sale.

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